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I had the privilege to watch this film at Berlinale 2012, and afterward
to hear a Q and A with some of the actors, as well as one of the
cinematographers and the director.
I really enjoyed this film. I found the story gripping, the actors convincing (especially considering they were previously untrained)and the overall film kept me hooked. In particular i felt the film showed a great balance between following the story while also managing to include a lot of street shots showing regular people doing regular things. I liked the way this was blended into the story, but didn't detract from it at all. Something else i think deserves a mention is the music and sound engineering. For a low budget film i found it superb. Not only was the music well chosen, and fitting for the scenes changes, but the overall audio presentation was great (this may have been partly due to the theater we were in though).
I was delighted to attend the world premier of Una Noche at the Berlin
Film Festival. I loved it, and judging from the audience's reaction, it
went down very well.
Mulloy's cinematography feels very modern and sleek. The film has a high-budget feel, but I imagine the real budget was surprisingly small, and working in Cuba will no doubt present endless challenges to the director's artistic vision. The technique of montaging-in seemingly unrelated shots into fairly simple scenes definitely builds up a complex and rich background portrayal of Cuba, deeply aesthetic in nature. I'd say this technique works pretty well.
The film's real strength, however, is in its acting. All three lead characters have a brilliantly simply and very human chemistry, which Mulloy captured expertly. This is definitely a film about human relationships, not politics, and so appeals to the heart instead of the head. The plot works on a very simple premise, but that seems fitting. This is a very Cuban film - intellectually unsophisticated, but rich in heart and down-to-earth observations. Earthy, if you will.
The bold decision to set sail in the middle of the film splits it into two parts: a very colourful and vibrant portrayal of life (both good and bad) on dusty Cuba, and a bluey-grey abstract half which is both open and claustrophobic. In both parts, it is the acting which really prevails. The pacing was always good - with the film remaining relatively constant, as opposed to a fast-slow-fast-slow etc affair.
I left the cinema feeling as though Mulloy had not set out to impart a message, but rather to observe and tell a story. The film is surprisingly apolitical in its stance, given what it portrays and the subject matter itself. I'd say this film is classic storytelling mixed with a rich insight into Cuba. Maybe I'll go there for myself one day to see what it's like!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some of the most sought after tickets at Tribeca 2012 were for the
triple award winning Una Noche. A number of additional screenings sold
out quickly, but there were still long queues of people hopeful to get
So did it deserve all the hype? I certainly think so. As a Brit who has lived in Cuba, I think Lucy Mulloy's film captured the best and the worst of Havana perfectly. Beautifully shot in well known landmarks, but also off the beat locations, the film reveals parts of the city not only unfilmed, but rarely accessed by outsiders before. As an energetic ride through one day and night in raw and gritty Havana, Una Noche captures the passion of its people, the despair in their lives, but also the love and laughter they share.
The non-actors performances were stunning, their natural presence and ability to light up the screen justifies the long search Mulloy undertook in Cuban schools to find them. Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nunez Florian shared a much deserved best actor award, proving they are real stars in the making.
Lucy Mulloy fell in love with Cuba ten years ago and this passion shines through the whole film. Based on a true story, ironically the film began a real life drama of it's own when Javier Nunez Florian and Anailin de la Rua de la Torre fled in Miami without even making it to New York for the premiere in a much publicised case of life imitating art. Their defection is another story in itself, what Una Noche does is presents a rare and insightful view of a closely guarded country where many people make the choice of taking to the treacherous ninety miles of water between it and America.
The final act of the journey on a makeshift raft ties everything the film is about together so well, optimistic youth, base human instincts, loyalty vs. selfishness and escape from a claustrophobic life. Una Noche really captures the real heart of Cuba. Having lived there, I was transported back to Havana in a way I've never been since leaving.
This is a fantastic movie. All actors enacted their characters very
well. The script (even though its in Spanish) and screen play are
great!! Or more appropriately, the sub-titles convey the mood of a
scene without losing anything in translation. The movie is action
packed, has nail- biting moments, and shows a lot of fun and excitement
along with desperation. The sound track is beautiful and makes me want
to visit Cuba.
The Q & A session at the end of the movie in the TriBeCa Film Festival was very insightful about how the movie was made, despite the challenges. A small team of extremely dedicated and talented people have come together as a great crew to make this fantastic movie. Would love to watch this again in the theaters - can't wait for it's national theater release in the US. Hope it gets nominated for an Oscar and wins too!
Lucy Mulloy's "Una Noche" (One Night) takes you into the depths of the
Cuban culture and exposes how far its main characters are willing to go
to find a better life. Daniel Arrechaga, who plays Raul, is an
energetic free spirit who's been drowning in the sedentary existence of
his mundane job while at the same time trying to sell and trade
whatever he can to support his HIV positive prostitute mother. But time
is running out as Raul's gets restless and proceeds to unintentionally
create a situation for himself that will force him to flee in order to
avoid prosecution. His childhood friend Elio (Javier Núñez Florián) and
sister Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre) are in similar desperate
situations as they find themselves facing daily austerity in the face
of an impending bleak future. Raul's unawareness of Elio's feelings
towards him makes matters ever more interesting as both men choose to
embark on an odyssey at sea on a made up raft. Their plans are altered
by Lila, a sudden addition to their trip. With only a concept and very
little to work with, this threesome sets out to sea hoping to survive
the treacherous and at times life threatening waters in order find a
new life in Miami. All three find themselves in a dicey situation as
Lila's menstruation becomes a call to feast from hungry sharks and a
catalyst to an unnerving and troubling ending.
The leads performances and fascinating look into surviving a very repressed Cuban society with stern consequences for those who choose to engage in minor infractions, is what makes this remarkable and sexually charged feature a journey you will never forget.
It is a country that lies only 90 miles outside of U.S. borders but
decades of political discord have kept the story of Cuba from American
eyes. 'Una Noche' the feature film debut of British director Lucy
Mulloy, tells the story of three brave, and daring teens who venture to
cross the treacherous ocean and prevail against a fate of poverty and
The cinematography is stirring and captivating. The performances are natural and engaging. Mulloy is a brilliant director who presents a seamless motion picture, tenderly and candidly.
The harsh and bleak trappings of scarcity as well as the joy of family and friends play as the background to a cleverly written love triangle. Adrenaline fuels the urgency of the characters' desperation.
As a viewer you feel as though your passport has been stamped. You've received an all expense paid trip to the pain and the paradise of the communist island nation.
It is a film like no other. You hold your breath and pray for the shore line to be merciful --- and edge closer.
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